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Eating with Kids in China — What You Need to Know

Eating with Kids in China — What You Need to Know

Written by Kelly PangUpdated Nov. 20, 2023

Having enjoyable meals during a trip is so important. And to take good care of your children, you should pay more attention to meals when travelling. The following are our tips for eating with kids in China.

Choose the Right Restaurants for Your Kids

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To avoid stomach upsets, choose clean restaurants with hygiene licenses.

In most above-average-price restaurants there are baby seats for young kids. If you need one, ask the waiter/waitress to get one for you. As there are many hazards in China, and more than usual in restaurants, do not let your children run around and explore at will. Always supervise them. (Some Chinese restaurants have signs about this… in Chinese.)

Large cities like Beijing and Shanghai have theme restaurants for kids (see below). They are more interesting for kids, and may brighten up their trips.

Popular Dishes for Kids

If your kids are not picky eaters, they could try the full variety of Chinese food. But if you doubt your kid(s) would eat more exotic Chinese food, here are some popular dishes that most Western kids like:

Chow MeinChow Mein
  • Food made of flour: dumplings, wonton, steamed dumplings or buns
  • Noodles: boiled noodles without soup, chow mein (fried noodles)
  • Rice: steamed rice, fried rice with egg (or ham), congee
  • Meat: sweet and sour pork, kung pao Chicken (when not spicy), broccoli and beef
  • Egg: egg roll, steamed egg custard
  • Drinks: orange juice, corn juice, milk

There are also Western restaurants in most cities for your kids if they are tired of Chinese meals. KFCs and McDonald's are in almost every city.

Vegetables in Chinese Restaurants

In Chinese restaurants, green leafy vegetables are usually cooked alone as a dish without meat.But some vegetables like broccoli, eggplant, cucumber, and carrots, are usually fried with meats. If your kids don't like plain greens, you could order tastier dishes with both vegetables and meat.

Not Recommended for Young Kids

FishDon't let your kid eat fish.

Don't eat the appetizers. In Chinese restaurants, from medium-price, there are usually appetizers. The common appetizers are cold, pickled, and sometimes spicy. Young kids usually don't like them. But if your kids aren't fussy, you could try them.

Don't eat fish. Fish is a common dish, but Chinese cooks usually don't remove the bones. So fish is quite a risky challenge for adults, let alone kids. If your kids do accidently swallow a fish bone or something similar, and it gets stuck in the throat, the usual remedy in China is to eat a mouthful or two of rice to send it down to the stomach.

Don't eat uncooked food. To avoid food poisoning, choose cooked food for your kids, especially in poorer areas.

Avoid too much oil. Avoid oily food like fast fry-ups and deep-fried food, as this often leads to indigestion for those not used to it.

Don't eat street food. If your kids' stomachs get upset easily, don't let them eat food purchased from street vendors.

See more on keeping healthy in China.

Keep Your Kids Occupied While Waiting

You may have to wait a long time for your meal in Chinese restaurants. And while waiting, kids can get bored and may start to be naughty. So bring small coloring books or games to keep them busy.

Tips for Using Tableware

Disinfected TablewareDisinfected Tableware

Wash the "Disinfected" Tableware

Many restaurants use "disinfected", packaged tableware. However, the bowls, cups, etc. may not be fully cleaned, particularly in lower-price restaurants. You can ask the waiter for hot water to wash the crockery. Or you could bring your own tableware for your kids.

Spoons Instead of Chopsticks

Chopsticks can be potential safety problems for young kids. They may poke their eyes, knock over things, and are bound to drop food or drop their chopsticks (regularly) if not used to them.

So if your kids are not able to use chopsticks, please ask the waiter/waitress to provide spoons instead. Knives and forks are not available in most Chinese restaurants, but spoons are.

Get a Child-Customized China Tour

Make Dumplings

If you are planning a first trip to China, see our most popular tours below for inspiration:

Our tours are customizable and our guides are flexible and there to help. You can have a customized and easy China tour with us. See more family tours, or tell us your interests and requirements, and we will create your own China family tour.

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